IMG_0801 When John said, "and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14), the Greek word that is translated as "dwelt" means "pitched a tent" ("skene", or tabernacle).  So John said, God pitched his tent: in Christ, he tabernacled among us.  The Old and the New Testaments have a long memory of their desert, nomadic history and are scattered with tents, real and metaphorical.
On Sunday 17 July 2016, the parishes of Shere, Albury and Chilworth got together for a service in a large tent pitched on Albury Heath surrounded by beautiful woods.  Before the service, we went for a stroll in the sultry summer heat; the activity was echoed by a verse in the first hymn, "When through the woods and forest glades I wander/And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees" ("My God, how great thou art"). IMG_0799 (1)


As well as the reading of John, the theme of three great Jewish festivals described in the reading of Leviticus (23: 39-44) was picked up by Bishop Andrew of Guildford in his Address.  The feast of Unleavened Bread celebrated the barley harvest at Passover in spring; the feast of First Fruits (coinciding with Pentecost) was for the wheat harvest and thirdly, the Feast of Tabernacles for the olives, grapes and dates (possibly, at Christmas).
At the Feast of Tabernacles, a week-long holiday was spent outdoors in tents.  The campers, whose ancestors had reached the promised land after long travels with tents, were reminded, by living in a close community and not being barricaded behind the brick walls of their houses, to love their neighbours, to wholly love God and, remembering that poverty prevented some from returning to houses, to provide for the poor.  I wonder if next year the Bishop will propose a camping weekend instead of a tent service ... but not, hopefully, at Christmas time.  


Highlights of 2016
Webpage icon Music and books at St Martha's
Webpage icon Renewing vows in St Thomas'